Hudson Swafford stopped his slide with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole, and he finished with an 8-foot par putt to hold on for a one-shot victory Sunday in the Corales Puntacana Club and Resort Championship.
Swafford closed with a 3-under 69, doing most of his work on the front nine with a 31 that took him from a two-shot deficit to a three-shot lead.
He led by four shots with six holes to play when he made double bogey on the 13th and bogey from the fairway on the 15th, falling into a share of the lead with Mackenzie Hughes and Tyler McCumber.
Swafford hit 6-iron to a front pin on the 210-yard 17th hole, with the wind coming off the Caribbean Sea on the right. It landed 10 feet to the left and he pumped his fist when he saw the putt drop for his first birdie since the eighth hole.
That gave him a one-shot lead over McCumber, who had rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 66. Ahead of him was Hughes, who made bogey from short of the 18th green for a 70 to fall two shots behind.
Swafford was on the front portion of the green and left his 40-foot putt up the ridge 8 feet short. He made that to avoid a playoff, finishing at 18-under 270.
Swafford’s second PGA Tour victory — the other was the Desert Classic in 2017 — gets him into the Masters next April. He has not played in a major in more than three years.
McCumber was bogey-free in the final round and never seemed to be part of the picture until the end. He worked his way around the back nine with a collection of tough par saves, birdies on the par 5s, and then a must-make birdie on the 18th.
Adam Long, the 54-hole leader, shot 38 on the front and closed with a 75 to finish fifth, four shots behind.
Swafford, who had foot surgery in the summer of 2019, nearly stumbled to the finish line. Staked to a three-shot lead at the turn, he missed good birdie chances with a 6-foot putt on the 11th hole and a 7-iron for his second shot to the par-5 12th. But he pulled that enough to go down to a steep collection, the first chip came back to his feet and he had to hit a super pitch to escape with par.
On the next hole, he wasn’t so fortunate.
From left of the 13th, another chip came back down the hill. His next chip was 12 feet short and he missed the putt, taking a double bogey. Ahead of him, Hughes birdied the par-5 14th. And when Swafford missed the 15th green from the fairway and failed to get up-and-down, he was tied.
The 6-iron to the 17th, where so many other players had come up short, changed everything.
“A good flighted 6-iron,” he said. “Done it 100,000 times. I love hitting that golf shot. It was a good one, and even a better putt.”
Will Zalatoris, coming off a tie for sixth in the US Open, tied for eighth. Zalatoris, who plays the Korn Ferry Tour but cannot get a PGA Tour card until next year, can get into the next PGA Tour event because of his top-10 finish.
European — John Catlin birdied three of his last four holes to close with a 6-under 64 and storm from behind for a two-shot victory in the Irish Open in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, his second in three weeks on the European Tour.
Catlin, a 29-year-old American who until this year had only won on the Asian Tour, will move into the top 100 in the world for the first time in his career.
Aaron Rai never got anything going in favorable conditions at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort. A birdie on the 17th hole pulled him within one shot of Catlin, and a birdie on the par-5 closing hole would have forced a playoff. Instead, Rai made bogey and closed with a 70.
Catlin finished on 10-under 270.
Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand fell back with a double bogey on the par-3 14th hole. He finished with a 69 and tied for third with Maverick Antcliff (70), three shots behind Catlin.
Catlin won earlier this month at Valderrama. He tied for eighth the following week at the Portugal Masters. With two victories, he joins Sam Horsfield and Rasmus Hojgaard as two-time winners on the European Tour this season. Catlin, who played college golf at New Mexico, moves to No. 14 in the Race to Dubai.
He is the first American to win the Irish Open since Hubert Green in 1977.
He also becomes just the third American to win this event and the first for 43 years after victories for Major Champions Ben Crenshaw and Green in 1976 and 1977.